Flying Squirrel vs Sugar Glider – Fun Facts and Differences

Have you ever wondered about the main differences between a flying squirrel vs sugar glider? Flying squirrels are placental mammals from America and Asia, while sugar gliders are marsupials originating from Australia. These two small, nocturnal animals are often confused due to their big eyes and bushy tails, but they have some distinct differences.

Flying squirrel vs sugar glider

I’ve always been fascinated by how sugar gliders and flying squirrels navigate their habitats. Flying squirrels prefer deciduous forests and use flaps of skin between their limbs to glide short distances. On the other hand, sugar gliders live in eucalyptus trees in Australia and have a similar gliding mechanism, though their methods and distances can vary greatly.

Choosing between these unique pets depends on where you live and what you’re looking for in a companion. Sugar gliders require specific diets and are social animals needing lots of attention. In contrast, flying squirrels are not good pets and only should be captive if they are non-releasable because of health issues. They often require more permits and can have different socialization needs.

Blonde Squirrel Explanation

What is the Difference Between Sugar Glider and Flying Squirrel?

Sugar gliders are marsupial mammals from Australia, known for their social nature and gliding ability using a skin flap. Flying squirrels, on the other hand, are placental mammals from North America, more independent and also glide using a similar membrane. While sugar gliders eat sap and insects, flying squirrels prefer nuts and fruits. They are not closely related.

Physical Characteristics

Flying squirrels and sugar gliders may look similar, but they have distinct physical characteristics that set them apart. They both have a gliding membrane and large eyes, though their fur color and body sizes differ.

Appearance and Anatomy

Flying squirrels have a body length ranging from 5 to 14 inches and usually weigh between 2 to 5 ounces. Their fur is soft and varies from gray to brown, with the belly usually white.

Sugar gliders, on the other hand, are marsupials and measure around 4 to 7 inches in length, weighing between 3 to 6 ounces. They feature blue-gray fur with a prominent dark stripe running from their head down to their back.

The large eyes in both species help them see in the dark, aiding their nocturnal lifestyle.

Unique Adaptations

flying squirrel vs sugar glider

Both animals possess a patagium or a gliding membrane. For flying squirrels, this membrane extends from their wrists to their ankles. It allows them to glide over 150 feet between trees. Flying squirrels use this adaptation primarily to escape predators and find food more efficiently.

Sugar gliders have a similar membrane that stretches from their ankles to their wrists, but as marsupials, they also have a pouch for carrying their young. This unique adaptation helps them care for their offspring while still being able to glide effectively through the air.

Both their gliding membranes and nocturnal vision are fascinating adaptations that help them thrive in their natural habitats. For more detailed comparisons, you can read about the differences on Squirrels at the Feeder or Misfit Animals.

Genetic Studies and DNA Comparison

Recent genetic studies have shown distinct differences in the DNA of flying squirrels and sugar gliders, underscoring their separate evolutionary paths. This helps us understand why these two animals, despite their similar gliding abilities, are not closely related.

Habitat and Distribution

Flying squirrels and sugar gliders both have unique native regions and specific habitats in the wild. They share some similarities when it comes to adaptability in new environments but also have distinct differences.

Native Regions

Flying squirrels are widely spread across the eastern half of the United States, northern Eurasia, India, and parts of Asia. Sugar gliders, however, are native to New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, and northern and eastern Australia. Their native regions influence their behavior and adaptations.

Habitats in the Wild

In their natural habitats, flying squirrels are found in dense forests, particularly in temperate and boreal zones. They prefer deciduous or mixed woods with plenty of tree cover. Sugar gliders, on the other hand, thrive in the treetops of temperate forests. They use their gliding ability to travel between trees to find food and evade predators.

Climate Change Impact

Climate change poses a threat to both species by altering their natural habitats. Rising temperatures and deforestation can significantly impact their survival, making conservation efforts even more critical.

Adaptability to New Environments

Both animals can adapt to new environments, but there are differences in how they do so. Flying squirrels can live in urban areas if there are enough trees. They have been known to adapt well to parks and residential areas. Sugar gliders, while also adaptable, often need specific environmental conditions. They can live in captivity and require a habitat that replicates their natural environment closely to thrive.

By understanding their habitat and distribution, I get a clear picture of where these fascinating creatures come from and how they manage to live both in the wild and in new environments. The differences in their native regions, habitats, and adaptability highlight the unique aspects of both flying squirrels and sugar gliders.

Behavior and Lifestyle

Flying Squirrel vs Sugar Glider1
Sugar Glider

Flying squirrels and sugar gliders share some fascinating traits, particularly in terms of their nocturnal habits and social behaviors. Both creatures are active at night and have unique ways of interacting with their environment and each other.

Daily Life and Social Structure

Flying squirrels and sugar gliders are both nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night. During the day, they usually rest in nests or tree hollows. These animals often live in small social groups or family units.

Sugar gliders are known for their strong social bonds. They thrive in groups and engage in mutual grooming and close physical contact. This social connection is crucial for their well-being.

Flying squirrels also exhibit social behavior but tend to be more solitary. They may share nests during colder months to keep warm but do not form as strong bonds as sugar gliders do.

Communication and Interaction

flying squirrel with nut in its mouth
Flying Squirrel

Communication for both flying squirrels and sugar gliders relies heavily on vocalizations and other forms of interaction. Sugar gliders use a range of sounds, including barking and hissing, to communicate with their group members. They also use scent markings to establish territory and ensure group cohesion.

Flying squirrels are quieter but use soft chattering sounds and tail movements to interact. Their communication is more subtle but still effective in conveying important information, such as alerting others to danger.

I’ve noticed that these nocturnal creatures have distinct ways of forming connections and navigating their nighttime world. Both species forage for food at night and use their gliding ability to move efficiently between trees, making their nocturnal lifestyle both unique and adaptive.

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Conservation Efforts

Conservation efforts are crucial for protecting these animals. Organizations like [XYZ] are working to preserve their habitats and ensure their populations remain stable. Supporting these efforts can make a big difference in their survival.

I’ve noticed that these nocturnal creatures have distinct ways of forming connections and navigating their nighttime world. Both species forage for food at night and use their gliding ability to move efficiently between trees, making their nocturnal lifestyle both unique and adaptive.

Diet and Nutrition

flying - squirrel - vs - sugar - glider - sugar glider on tree
Sugar Glider

When it comes to their diet and nutrition, flying squirrels and sugar gliders have different feeding habits and preferred foods. Let’s explore what each of these fascinating creatures eats and how they get their nutrition.

Feeding Habits

I find that both flying squirrels and sugar gliders are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plant- and animal-based foods. Flying squirrels are mostly nocturnal and forage for food at night. They love to snack on a variety of items, and their diet changes with the seasons.

On the other hand, sugar gliders also have nocturnal feeding habits. These tiny animals have a sweet tooth and are often found munching on sugary foods like nectar and sap. They use their long tongues to reach deep into flowers or tree bark to get to the sweet treats.

Preferred Foods

Flying squirrels enjoy a diverse menu. Their diet includes nuts, seeds, fruits, and even fungi. They are particularly fond of acorns, hickory nuts, and walnuts. Sometimes, they also eat insects, bird eggs, and tree bark.

Sugar gliders, in contrast, prefer sweet foods like nectar, sap, and fruits. They also eat insects to fulfill their protein needs. Popular foods for sugar gliders include apples, berries, and mealworms. I always make sure to provide a balanced diet to keep them healthy, incorporating a mix of fruits, proteins, and specialized pellets designed for sugar gliders.

Both species have specific dietary requirements that need to be met to ensure they stay healthy and active. Understanding their unique diets helps me provide the best care possible for these adorable creatures.

Keeping as a Pet

how long do squirrels live - flying squirrel
Haku the Flying Squirrel courtesy of @ZimtheSquirrel on IG

If you’re thinking about keeping a flying squirrel, don’t……as they don’t make good pets because they aren’t domesticated. However, if you have a sugar glider or a non-releasable flying squirrel because of health issues, there are several things you need to consider. These include their care needs, health concerns, and legal requirements.

Care and Management

When it comes to enclosure needs, flying squirrels and sugar gliders have a lot in common. They both need large cages with vertical space to climb and glide. I make sure to provide lots of branches, ropes, and toys for them to stay active.

Nutrition is another key area. Sugar gliders thrive on a mix of fruits, vegetables, and insects. Flying squirrels, on the other hand, prefer nuts, fruits, and seeds. It’s essential to keep their diet varied to ensure they get all the necessary nutrients.

Both animals are social and benefit from companionship. I’ve found that sugar gliders are particularly needy and require a lot of interaction, either with their owner or with another sugar glider. Flying squirrels are a bit more reserved but still enjoy social time.

Cleanliness of the enclosure is crucial. I clean their cages weekly and spot clean daily to maintain a healthy environment. Good hygiene practices prevent diseases and keep my pets happy.

Health Concerns and Lifespan

Both sugar gliders and flying squirrels have their own health concerns. Sugar gliders can be prone to metabolic bone disease if their diet isn’t balanced. Regular vet visits are essential to monitor their health.

Flying squirrels tend to suffer from dental issues, so I keep an eye on their teeth and make sure they have things to chew on. These pets require health care awareness and regular check-ups to catch any potential issues early.

The lifespan of these pets varies; sugar gliders can live up to 15 years with proper care, while flying squirrels usually live around 5-10 years. Knowing this helps me be prepared for a long-term commitment, especially with exotic pets.

Legal Considerations

Before getting either of these exotic pets, I check the legal considerations. Some states require a permit to keep a sugar glider or flying squirrel. It’s important to research local laws to make sure I’m complying with regulations.

Owning these animals might require special housing regulations or limitations on breeding. Understanding the legal landscape saves me from potential fines or the heartbreak of losing my pet due to legal issues.

I also consider how these regulations impact my ability to seek medical help or travel with my pets. Some vets might not be familiar with exotic pet care, so specialized vets are often necessary.

flying - squirrel - vs - sugar - glider
Flying Squirrel

Flying Squirrel

  • A placental mammal
  • 9-11 inches (24-28 cm)
  • Weigh 2-3 ounces (57-85 gm)
flying - squirrel - vs - sugar - glider - sugar glider on tree
Sugar Glider

Sugar Glider

  • A marsupial mammal
  • 9-12 inches (24-30 cm) long
  • Weigh 4-6 ounces (113-170 gm)

Conclusion – Flying Squirrel vs Sugar Glider

When it comes to choosing between a flying squirrel and a sugar glider, there are several things to consider.


  • Lifespan: Sugar gliders generally live longer, about 14 years in both the wild and captivity, while flying squirrels live 3-5 years in the wild and up to 13 years in captivity. Flying Squirrel vs. Sugar Glider Lifespan
  • Classification: Sugar gliders are marsupial mammals, while flying squirrels are rodents.


  • Both have patagium membranes that allow them to glide.
  • Both are nocturnal with large eyes to help them see at night.
  • Both species are arboreal, living and moving through trees.


  • They independently evolved the ability to glide, showcasing similar adaptations despite being from different mammal groups.

Suitability as Pets:

  • Sugar gliders make wonderful pets but they have different care needs. They enjoy social interaction and may require more attention.
  • Flying squirrels tend to adapt well to captivity and can bond with their owners, but should not be kept as pets unless they are non-releasable due to health issues.

Compatibility with Lifestyle:

  • Consider your daily routine. Sugar gliders need more social engagement, while flying squirrels might need less but still benefit from interaction.

Purchasing Tips:

  • Ensure you buy from reputable breeder for sugar gliders.
  • Check for guidance and support on how to care for your new pet properly.

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  1. So a flying squirrel can gllde about 65 feet, about the length of a bowling alley. A sugar glider can’t soar as far…but it still manages to travel an impressive 164 feet…..???? Isn’t 164 feet more than 65 feet ???? Sooooo…what to believe ….caution ….not everything n the internet is written correctly.

    1. Thank you Larry for bringing this inaccuracy to my attention. I have corrected the information and submitted it to Google and Bing for updating in their search engines.

  2. It says the sleep at night … but also says they are re nocturnal .. so that needs to be corrected. I think someone just made a mistake. The are active at night and sleep during the day is what they meant..

    1. Hello Heather, Thank you very much for taking the time to comment and calling my attention to the misprint in the article. I corrected the information. Thank you for supporting the Kitty City Squirrels website.

      Much appreciated,

  3. I don’t know about the length they glide but they are super happy to see me in the morning. They jump to that side of cage so they can come out and get their runs in. The hop all over the place. When they are warm and happy they make little humming clicky sounds. When I’m my shirt or eating treats. They love mini marshmallows but they don’t get those too often. Got my finger bit the other day over a pretzel and mozzarella. They really don’t leave each others side. I can’t imagine what one will do when the other goes. They are so bonded together. ♥️ Shani @hammy_thesquirrel.

    P.s. loved your comparison. They are sleeping right now and it’s 12:17 am. They get up around 3 or 4 am and then I take them out of cage at 5. They will run around my room til about 9 am then lights out. Sometimes they are up during the day. Just depends. If it’s rainy out they are up. Great pets. Little more stinky then Hammy but I have grown to love their stink and it’s normal to wash the wall next to cage. They also eat. 50/50 blend of fruit and veggies with chicken or turkey, yogurt and applesauce. Can make a whole month worth at a time.

  4. We love our sugar gliders but I can’t seem to make a believer out of my son-in-law! He keeps saying we have, flying squirrels! I know they are not! I need to share this article with our, son-in-law! How can I do that?

  5. Loved reading about the adaptability to new environments, especially how these creatures are adjusting with the changing climate. It’s super important to highlight these stories to understand better how we can help. Merideth Sweeney, your writing captures the essence beautifully!

  6. hey, so i was wondering how the diet of a sugar glider compares to a flying squirrel? like, are there any specific foods one would eat that the other wouldn’t? super curious about the overlap if there’s any!

    1. Great question, Bri. From what I’ve gathered, sugar gliders are more into sweet stuff, fruits, and sap, while flying squirrels prefer more varied diet including nuts, fungi, and sometimes small insects. Fascinating, isn’t it?

  7. The section on habitats in the wild caught my eye. It’s crucial to document these areas through photography to bring awareness to their beauty and the environmental challenges they face. Keep up the great work.

  8. So excited to learn more about keeping sugar gliders as pets! Been thinking about getting one and this article helped a lot. Thanks for the info 🙂

  9. not sure how i feel about promoting the keeping of wild animals as pets. shouldn’t we focus more on conservation and less on domestication? just a thought.

  10. It’s heartening to see an emphasis on conservation efforts in the article. Protecting these creatures and their habitats is paramount. We all have a role in ensuring their survival.

  11. The legal considerations for keeping these animals as pets should be stricter. It’s a big responsibility, and not everyone is up to the task. We need stronger laws to protect them.

  12. this was an interesting read. didn’t know much about either sugar gliders or flying squirrels before. learned something new today

  13. Incorporating information from this article into my lesson plans on biodiversity and adaptations. It provides clear examples that are easy for students to understand and relate to. Thank you!

  14. I’m drawn to the tales these animals’ lives tell, especially how they adapt and survive in various climates. It’s a rich foundation for any narrative, real or fictional. Captivating article!

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